Growing your tomatoes vertically isn’t difficult but it takes more time and effort than cage-growing. So here’s what you need to know about staking tomato plants in your vegetable garden.
Staking increases the yields per square foot so if you’re in a home garden with restricted space, then staking is the way to grow. And you have a choice for staking your plants.
How To Stake
The stake must be shoved into the ground at least 12- 18 inches. This will have to be a strong bamboo pole, metal fence pole or long length of rebar. It will have to support a considerable amount of weight and if it’s not deeply buried, it will flop over when the plant is mature.
As the tomato grows, you pick one strong growing shoot. This is your main growing stem. All others are now removed and this single stem is tied to the stake as it grows. Tying can be done with any kind of twine or soft string. Do not tie too tightly.
And tie the stem every 8-12 inches to keep it tight to the stake.
Pick off any suckers – you’re only growing one single stem straight up the stake.
Now perhaps you’re a frugal gardener and want to grow even more fruit from a single plant?
The way to do this is to allow the first sucker produced by the plant (usually on the lowest leaves) to grow up into a second leader. (Prune off all subsequent leaders) You now have the original leader and a second leader. These two leaders can be trained up their individual stakes (you’ll have to lean the stakes at an angle to divide the plants and give air circulation) to produce two main leaders producing equal amounts of fruit. This is a commonly used system in greenhouse production to increase the yield per square foot and it works quite nicely in the garden as well.
I note that the leaning stakes have to be supported so they don’t fall over
Removing the Bottom Leaves
An old trick I learned when growing greenhouse tomatoes was to remove the lower tomato leaves (below the truss of tomatoes ripening) as the plant grew up the string or stake. This didn’t reduce the harvest but it did reduce the amount of water splash or disease that got established on the plant. Made it all neat and clean with more air circulation between plants to hold down disease.
So – as the fruit ripens (it ripens from the bottom to the top) remove the leaves from below the current ripening fruit cluster. Do not remove leaves from above the lowest ripening fruit cluster. And as you harvest the last tomato from a fruit set, remove the leaves below it.
This does not work with caged or ground grown tomatoes – only those being staked.
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